Writings of a techie wizard
Category: opinions - Page 2
Mon, 12 Aug 2013

(Note: there is a discussion of this post on Hacker News.)

I posted some time back that one drawback of the "cloud" is that you can't control how data you post to a "cloud" service is used. Facebook has now provided us with an even better example than the case (Instagram) I talked about in that post.


Posted at 19:56   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers   |   Permalink
Fri, 09 Aug 2013

A while back I blogged about the Linux kernel site (not) being cracked. That is, someone had indeed cracked the server, but had not been able to do any damage because all of the files stored there were cryptographically signed in a way that could not be forged. Strictly speaking, that was not a story about how Linux itself is more secure than other operating systems; but the fact that the Linux kernel developers took such precautions certainly indicates a mindset towards security that is different from that of certain other operating systems.

Yesterday ZDNet reported on some more direct evidence of Linux's security as an operating system, not just the security of its kernel repository.


Posted at 22:01   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers   |   Permalink
Thu, 25 Apr 2013

Fire Dog Lake is angry about the recent Senate vote that killed the Toomey-Manchin background check amendment to the latest gun control bill. However, the anger is not directed at the Democrats that voted against the amendment, but at those who voted for it.


Posted at 18:12   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: politics   |   Permalink
Thu, 28 Mar 2013

Some interesting items have come out of yesterday's oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the Defense of Marriage Act case. Since I've blogged about this case before, I wanted to take a look at the Court's handling of it.


Posted at 22:04   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: politics   |   Permalink
Sun, 10 Feb 2013

I hadn't intended to say any more about the Peter Jackson films after my last post, but then I came across a series of three reviews of the movies by Andrew Rilstone, and found that I have more to say after all. (This will come as no surprise to those who know me, of course.)


Posted at 20:55   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: fantasy, movies   |   Permalink
Tue, 08 Jan 2013

I have a confession to make: I have not yet seen The Hobbit. This may seem strange to you if you've read my previous post about Tolkien, since I made it plain that I have been a Tolkien fan for a long time; but since I also said in the Postscript that I wasn't too happy with the Peter Jackson films of Lord of the Rings, it may not seem so strange after all that I haven't rushed out to see The Hobbit. But I do have a report from a friend who has seen it, and who has been a Tolkien fan as long as I have, and based on that report, I'm not in any hurry to see it. This post explains why.


Posted at 23:06   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: fantasy, movies   |   Permalink
Thu, 03 Jan 2013

This is just a quick note to confirm that it's official: the media industry is lame. YouTube recently deleted more that 2 billion fake video views that were created by Sony, Universal, RCA, and other media companies. This violates YouTube's terms of service, of course, which is why the fake views were deleted. But that's a minor point compared to the big question: how lame do you have to be to generate fake views to make your videos appear to be more popular than they actually are? Remember we're not talking about a few teenagers shooting home videos; we're talking about the biggest media companies in the world.

But even that isn't the full extent of the lameness. Remember that these are the same companies that complain loudly about "pirated" videos being posted on sites like...YouTube. As I have blogged a number of times before, the reason these companies are having these problems is that they are either unwilling or unable to change their business models to give their customers what they actually want. If this is their attempt to try and fix that, they need to think again.

Posted at 00:52   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers, politics   |   Permalink
Mon, 31 Dec 2012

This is my obligatory blog post about the "fiscal cliff". One can't expect to maintain one's blogging credentials without making some comment on an issue like this, but I have been hesitant even so because there didn't seem to be anything worth saying that hadn't already been said many, many times. Then I came across this op-ed from yesterday's New York Times:

As the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.

My take is exactly the opposite: our government is broken because we don't obey the Constitution, or indeed any coherent system of rules, if we think we can get our way by breaking them. And the fiscal cliff gives a perfect illustration of how this works and why it's a problem.


Posted at 18:55   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: economics, politics   |   Permalink
Tue, 18 Dec 2012

A while ago I explained why I'm not crazy about the cloud. In that post I stressed that, since you're not a paying customer to "cloud" services like Facebook and Google, you don't get to decide how they're run. Now I want to talk about another aspect of the cloud that seems risky to me: you don't get to decide how the data you post to a "cloud" service is used.


Posted at 19:48   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers   |   Permalink
Sat, 08 Dec 2012

I've posted a few times now about the Supreme Court, and at one point I noted that I had labeled myself a "strict constructionist". Now that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8 are going to the Supreme Court for review, having been found unconstitutional in a number of lower court cases, I have a chance to swing the pendulum back the other way somewhat.


Posted at 21:34   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: history, politics   |   Permalink
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